Centerpiece (At the Kosei Nenkin, vol. 2) is not only a superb companion to vol. 1, but eight of its ten selections are now available for the first time. The dean of modern vibraharpists, Jackson (1923-1999) was on leave from the Modern Jazz Quartet, which was at the time of these 1976 live recordings into the second year of what would prove to be a seven-year sabbatical. Here he leads a quintet of bona-fide, longtime all-stars, but more important than individual credentials is the fact that each of the participants had worked with all of the others at some juncture in their illustrious careers. And in the cases of Jackson and the matchless bassist Ray Brown (whose association began in 1946) and pianist-composer Cedar Walton with the ceaselessly swinging drummer Billy Higgins, the musical relationships were exceedingly close and productive. As on vol. 1, the program is a well-chosen mix of not-overworked pop evergreens and modern jazz standards; and, again, the bedrock of the blues, the gospel of swing, and a string of emphatic solos provide common ground.
with Teddy Edwards, Cedar Walton, Ray Brown, Billy Higgins